Editorial: Recognizing Native American and Alaska Native culture


Vaishnavi Josyula, Staff

Throughout the United States, the month of November is recognized and celebrated as the Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month. We at the Vanguard News believe we should do our part as well in honoring and highlighting the struggles and achievements Native Americans and Alaska Natives have been through and achieved throughout history. 

The celebration was first held for a week (the week of Nov. 23 to 30) under President Reagan in 1986. Starting 1990, the celebrations were extended to a month-long event under President Bush. Since most Indigenous history tends to lack primary sources and be misrepresented (including the famous Thanksgiving tale of the Indigenous people welcoming European settlers with a feast), this month offers a place for people to learn about the eradicated, rich Native American culture and heritage.

For example, most Native American history taught in schools focuses on the interactions between the Indigeneous people, and European settlers and government– whether it be colonization, the Lewis and Clark expedition, or the infamous Trail of Tears. Very little information about Native American art, jewelry, festivals, and other aspects is taught. This is where a personal narrative written by an author of Indigenous origin would help; students would be able to broaden their horizons and respect the culture by reading a novel like Tommy Orange’s “There There” about Native American genocide during Thanksgiving. 

In light of the Native American and Alaskan Heritage month, we believe more teachers in LTHS should include various aspects of Native American culture in the curriculum whether it be reading a short story written by a Native American author or teaching students about the unseen or ignored parts of Indigenous history as a part of the curriculum. 

Prior to the infamous Trail of Tears, Collin county was home to the Caddo, Cherokee, Delaware, Kickapoo, and Tonkawa tribes. According to the 2019 United States Census Bureau, Frisco is home to around 1000 Native Americans. However, there are no Native American reservations in North Texas. 

While this month sheds light upon Indigenous achievements, Native Americans should not have to be heroes to be celebrated. The oppression they have been facing is far greater than the attention their issues receive. 

Vanguard News strives and encourages students and staff to honor Native American contributions either by learning about or participating in Native American traditions. 

Sources: https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/about/, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thanksgiving-myth-and-what-we-should-be-teaching-kids-180973655/, https://www.collincountyhistory.com/indians.html, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/curious-texas/2020/09/09/what-happened-to-native-american-tribes-that-once-existed-in-north-texas-curious-texas-investigates/, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/friscocitytexas, https://sanquentinnews.com/there-there-depicts-the-story-of-the-native-american-traditions/